Supporting Your Student from Afar

When you are on the other end of the phone or text, it is sometimes puzzling to figure out how to support your student from a distance. When a parent calls and shares their concern about their student, the parent inevitably will say, ”Don’t tell them I called, or my son/daughter will be furious if they knew I talked to you.” Parenting at this stage is challenging. When your student enters college, they are technically treated as adults. You no longer have access to their grades or any private information. As parents, you are trying to let your student grow, take on new responsibilities, develop relationships, and start their career life. But even though they are growing in independence, they still need you. Your parenting role does not end — it shifts.

Be a coach that is engaged, supportive and empathetic with the ups and downs of college life. Help them practice important life skills such as decision-making, choosing their majors, and managing their money. Avoid judging, but listen and let them know that you are a safety net as they request it. They will in some instances need counsel and advice from you, but do not be surprised if they do not ask. You may need to be proactive in initiating conversations about how they are doing. Your help is needed in co-designing a proactive college success plan. However, your student has to take leadership in the follow-through and delivery of the actions necessary for the successful completion of the plan. You also can be an excellent role model in helping them navigate failures and develop resilience.

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